Would you rather listen to someone tell an interesting story about how their product can help you solve a specific problem? Or simply hear the facts about their product? I think we all agree that a story is much more compelling. That’s because storytelling is relatable, which is how we want our customers to see us. Creating a story that focuses on your customer can help make authentic connections that build trusted relationships.
By wrapping your brand into a story narrative—and not just throwing out data or spewing product facts—you’ll make an emotional and more memorable connection with your prospects and customers. In fact, research shows that messages delivered as stories can be up to 22 times more memorable than just facts.
Why every company should be using brand storytelling
The secret to sales success is creating human connections, not merely moving products. And storytelling is a great way to present your product or service’s unique solutions to your customers in an approachable, organic way.
Forbes suggests, “Instead of throwing facts, statistics, and testimonials at your audience, focus on making your brand thoughtful, memorable, and real. Wrap your message into a story that transports people, simplifies information, and provokes an emotional response. Use narrative to share your brand’s history, challenges, successes, and value propositions.”
How storytelling can be your most effective sales tool
Articulating your brand’s value prop is the sweet spot for a successful sales pitch because it explains how your product or service will benefit your customer. And most importantly, it speaks to your customer’s pain points. How can your product or service make their lives easier? Save time or money? Improve productivity?
By flipping the narrative and focusing not on your product’s features or benefits but instead using storytelling to demonstrate how your product or service can solve your customer’s problems—that’s where you’ll make a breakthrough with your customer.
Author, public speaker, and business owner Donald Miller has written books and developed marketing and sales programs based on his famed StoryBrand framework. Specifically, Miller offers a sales-focused video series, The Customer is the Hero, in which he details how to position your customer as the hero and establish yourself as their trusted guide—and he does it by simply inviting the customer into an engaging story.
The principles that Miller outlines in his series are relatable and adaptable no matter which industry you’re in or your customer demographics. He promotes the practice of having a conversation with your audience instead of going in with a hard sales pitch. It’s a refreshing take on sales that also helps create and nurture long-term relationships.
How to use storytelling to close sales
Making your customer the hero and establishing yourself as their trusted guide: That’s the lead storyline Miller outlines in his StoryBrand training. It’s the path we should follow to develop the solid connections we want with our customers. Below summarizes Miller’s four steps to using his storytelling framework for successful sales.
1. Invite your customer into a story.
Miller explains that every good story starts with a problem or challenge. So, he suggests creating a narrative in which your product or service is the solution to your customer’s problem. To solve that problem—and save the day for your customer—you need to do your research first and identify your customer’s challenges and pain points. Next, determine exactly how your product or service can be of help. These initial steps help establish the framework for your storyline.
2. Position your product as a solution.
Because you want to serve as a consultant and not a salesperson, Miller suggests revealing your product in an organic way to solve your customer’s specific problem. Rather than touting features and benefits, they don’t need, create a storyline that focuses on the exact issues that present challenges for your customer—not everyone else in the field. This customized approach creates a perceived value in a solution that is solely their own.
3. Build a bridge from problem to solution.
Miller notes that some customers are apprehensive about making a purchase because they fear taking a risk. To alleviate that uncertainty, he suggests creating a storyline that paints a step-by-step picture or vision of what it feels like for your customer to use your product as it solves their problem. Focusing on how the product works can be confusing for people. We lose them. Again, instead of focusing on the nuts and bolts of a product, lead the customer through a story that shows how this solution works to solve their issues and what life looks like with that product in place.
4. Create urgency.
To generate the urgency that closes a sale, you need to establish “why” your customer needs to buy your product. Miller advises ramping up the storyline by identifying the challenges and the stakes to create a sense of urgency. By discussing what will be won or lost if they do or don’t buy, you can use storytelling to position your customer as the hero who overcomes high-stakes challenges by using your product or service.
For an in-depth look at the StoryBrand approach, check out Miller’s free video program:
Click here to watch the first video.
A few final thoughts about brand storytelling
The storytelling approach to sales is a natural fit for most companies because the problem/solution script almost writes itself. But to get it right, you’ve got to look past yourself—or your product specs, data, etc.—to arrive at the actual storyline about your customer’s needs. When you consider that the most successful companies understand their customers intimately and then over-deliver the solutions that improve their lives, it follows that a customized storytelling sales approach is right on.
Miller has got it right. He says that at the end of the day, customers can stay on one side of the bridge and wade in their problems. Or they can cross the bridge because they want to get to that happy ending. As sales professionals, it’s our job to invite our customers into the story, weaving the storyline in vivid detail and then serving as their guide to passing over that bridge where they experience a better way.